Pen Hadow, ‘the thinking man’s explorer’, has spent longer than most on the North Pole ice cap and has watched its gradual thinning with growing alarm. Twenty years ago, you could walk to the North Pole – now you have to swim part of the way there. Pen has seen for himself the indicators of climate change: polar bears and other Arctic wildlife where they shouldn’t be; polluted atmospheric hazes where once the horizons were pristine, and he relates his observations with passion and science, illustrating his talk with images and dramatic film footage that he has taken himself.
He explores the threats and the opportunities which will result from the accelerating disappearance of the ice-cap, including:
* The likely extinction of charismatic mega-fauna including polar bear and walrus, and the collapse of an entire sea ice-dependent ecosystem whose global significance is unknown.
* The opening up of new and faster commercial shipping routes linking Asia and the Pacific Rim to Europe and the US eastern seaboard.
* The significance of national territorial claims by countries surrounding the Arctic Ocean, including Russia and the United States, in advance of the extraction of oil and natural gas from the Arctic Ocean seabed as the obstructing ice cap melts away.
* Radical changes in the lifestyles of indigenous people as a result of the changing climate and the impacts of new commercial activity on the Arctic Ocean.
* Global sea level rise due to thermal expansion of the oceans, as the newly exposed Arctic Ocean absorbs 70% more solar energy than before.
* Coastguard and national defence issues as new types of vessels and equipment are required to operate in semi-iced and poorly charted waters.
* Availability of newly-accessible fishstocks to commercial fishing fleets.
All of the above are woven into Pen’s mesmerising and inspirational tales of courage overcoming adversity, when he became the only person ever to succeed in trekking from Canada to the North Geographic Pole all alone, without any resupplies.
Born in 1962, Pen was educated at Harrow, where he was head of house, head of school, head of rugby, football and athletics, and where he achieved his first feat of endurance: completing a school marathon at the age of 15, the first time that any boy had attempted the course for exactly fifty years, and now an annual fixture for the school. Then came his ‘wilderness’ years, when he struggled to resolve how best he could fulfil his potential, and, once he had set his heart on the polar regions, and the North Pole in particular, struggled even more to finally achieve his dream.
Pen read Geography at University College London, and went on to become the youngest-ever executive at Mark McCormack’s renowned International Management Group, where he was more focused in helping others achieve rather than himself.
When he set up The Polar Travel Company he famously empowered a group of allegedly ‘ordinary’ women to walk into The Guinness Book of Records, by initiating, selecting, organising, and largely funding the first ever All Women expedition to the North Geographic Pole.
Through The Polar Travel Company, the only specialist guide service of its kind in the world, he dedicated himself single-handedly, to opening up the Arctic and Antarctic to everyone. He even enabled a child with cerebral palsey to fly to the North Pole, and empowered a muscular dystophry sufferer to cover the last 100 metres there.
In February 2004, Pen guided 63 year old international businessman Simon Murray to the South Pole, thereby enabling him to become the oldest person by a decade ever to walk to the Pole, while Pen became the first Briton to trek without resupply to both Poles.
Pen’s defining quality is his natural ability – and passionate commitment – to bridging the divide between the speaker and his audience, to convince his audience that if even he can achieve what he sets out to do, then there’s no reason why they cannot do the same – it’s all about what goes on in your head.
Coutts, Tetrapak, Tatler, Savills, Nike, Lloyds TSB, Novartis, AC Nielsen, the MOD and England Rugby’s Elite Coaching Programme are just some of the organisations who have used Pen to inspire, motivate and entertain their employees, customers and management teams, at all kinds of events, from major conferences to intimate dinners.
Engagingly self-deprecating, inspirational and focused, audiences quickly identify with his themes. He integrates his business experience, hard-won leadership skills honed guiding novice teams in extreme environments, and his own ground-breaking endeavours in the Arctic and Antarctic, to apply fresh perspectives to clients’ key messages.
Each of Pen’s presentations is thoughtfully prepared according to the client’s brief, be it an intimate and informal 15 minute after-dinner discussion of polar stories; a motivational talk with highly impactful images and modern AV support; or a day of workshops. Pen can talk with insight and genuine authority about personal motivation, effective teamwork, and leadership techniques, to support the people in any organisation in realising their individual potential and achieving their team missions.
Pen’s personal and thought-provoking style can also touch on the less glamorous, but equally important, aspects of achieving success, including the value of failure, attitudes to risk, the work-life balance, and the issue of ‘giving up’.
Whatever the subject, wherever the venue, and whoever his audience; Pen will hold the audience in his thrall. Pen naturally engages an audience and effortlessly inspires them, directly relating the experiences he has endured out on the ice to the challenges he knows all too well are presented by the equally challenging work environment. Question time is his forte, when he can enjoy direct interaction with guests.
“Pen Hadow’s speech was a genuinely inspirational and motivating one. Having launched Marks and Spencer’s Plan A initiative on the need to tackle the enormous challenge of climate change, it was fantastic to hear from someone who has witnessed global warming at first hand.” Stuart Rose CEO Marks and Spencer – Pen spoke at the launch of their Plan A Initiative in May 2007
“You have a gift – and should use it. Few can communicate with a level of engagement and intensity like that.”
Dame Anita Roddick, Founder of The Body Shop
“An explorer embodying the Spirit of Scott & Shackleton”
“Outstanding in every respect … amusing, terrifying, engaging, inspiring. Terrific.”
Vernon Sankey, Main Board Director of Pearson plc
“… the more he described the outrageously challenging conditions and situations he has overcome, the more I and the others around me found ourselves wanting to go on a polar expedition ourselves, so engaging is his style … He’s a charismatic personality who can shift people’s perception of what is achievable.”
Mark Taylor – Commercial Director, Unigate Dairies
“… inspirational and well communicated…”
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